End Essay Writing Tip


End with a bang

Every song ends on the same note on which it began. Why? Because the mind demands it, which is to say, I haven't a clue. But I do know of a tale about how Bach's son used to wander home from the bars in the wee hours of the morning and play one of his father's pieces right up to the last note, then abruptly stop and drag himself to bed. The elder Bach, so the story goes, would have to get up, put on his nightclothes, and go downstairs and hit that final key before he could hope to get back to sleep. What does the story mean? It means that to create a sense of completion (I refuse to use that trendy term "closure," for there is no such thing, not in this life), a writer has to end his or her paper on the same note on which it began. Since the paper should open with a specific picture or argument or phrase, some echo of that original opening at the end gives the reader a sense that the paper has all been tied up in a nice neat package. Only then can we sleep in peace.

Echoing words from the topic paragraph, however, does not guarantee that the paper actually is tied up at the end. You still need a solid concluding paragraph that wraps up the argument you are making. This conclusion should not bring in new ideas or new evidence. Instead, it should be a completion of what has already been presented. It need not be a peroration, a resoundasing climax full of sound and fury, but it should, like the opening topic paragraph, grab the attention of the reader. If you cannot think of an ending, you may not have told a story. If you have not told a story, then you may not have had an argument to make. If you get this far, and do not know what to say at the end, perhaps a moment's reconsideration is in order.

Thank you.

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